VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals cut seven from major league camp Thursday, optioning Anthony Rendon, Sandy Leon and Nate Karns to Double-A Harrisburg and Eury Perez to Triple-A Syracuse. They also reassigned Matt Skole, Will Rhymes and Pat McCoy to minor league camp.
Rendon, Skole, Karns and Leon will start the season with a Harrisburg team that looks like it will be prospect-laden. Outfield prospects Brian Goodwin and Destin Hood could also begin the year at that level, along with infielder Rick Hague.
All seven players cut made an impression on the Nationals during their time in major league camp, with Rendon's torrid spring at the plate leading the way. The Nationals' top prospect, Rendon needs only to stay healthy and continue to get playing time.
"They had great springs," said manager Davey Johnson. "They impressed a lot of people."
"It was a good experience just being around the guys and seeing how everything is day in and day out," Rendon said. "It helps prepare you for when you get back up here."
Rendon showed what he can do at the plate when healthy. The 23-year-old leaves camp with a .296 average in 26 at-bats. He got on base at a .345 clip and slugged .741. He will play third base, shortstop and second base in the minors.
Skole, who finished the spring hitting .250 with two doubles, six walks and six strikeouts, also impressed the Nationals. He'll continue to play first and third base.
Karns said he was a little disappointed that upper right leg tightness limited what he was able to do during the latter part of his time in camp, but the right-hander still felt the experience was positive.
"[Johnson] just told me just go back to work," Karns said. "He told me that I have a bright future. ... Anytime you get to show more than a stat line, get to know me as a person or see me play, I think that'll help out in any regard."
Karns will throw a bullpen session Friday and believes the leg issue is not serious.
Perez, who made his major league debut with the Nationals in September, has been away from camp the past few weeks with the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. Leon proved his ability in 2012 when he filled in at the major league level after a rash of injuries depleted the Nationals' catching corps. The Nationals still think highly of him and hope he'll continue to develop this season.
McCoy, a left-handed pitcher, appeared in four games, allowing five runs on eight hits. Rhymes, a veteran infielder, does not have an opt-out clause in the minor league deal he signed this offseason. He will start the year in Triple-A.
Around the horn
Chris Young allowed one run off four hits and two walks in four innings of the Nationals' 6-3 victory over the Astros on Thursday. The lone blemish on his day was surrendering a home run to the first batter of the game. Young was pleased with the progress he made with his fastball command. ... Micah Owings hit a grand slam to give the Nationals their winning margin. ... Jayson Werth hit his first home run since his walk-off shot in Game 4 of the 2012 National League Division Series.
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